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Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 28

N.C.’s Two Qualities

Monday 30 June 2008, by Arun Bose

[(COMMUNICATION
- This letter was sent more then two years after N.C.’s demise by a close comrade of his since his days in England, one who became a member of the CPI Polit-Bureau and later a distinguished Professor of Economics, Kirorimal College, University of Delhi. He is no more with us but his incisive letter is being published on this occasion to bring out facets of N.C.’s life that need recollection.)]

When the arch-iconoclast Nikhil Chakravartty passed away not so long ago and ritualists and icon-makers, many of them hypocritically, vied with one another to mourn his absence, I remained silent. I had the feeling that not being a ritualist, nor a hypocrite, I had no right to join the chorus.

Today I am even more convinced than I was then, that I did the right thing for two reasons.

One: Nikhil absolutely detested no-change situations. To such an extent that as an under-graduate at Merton College, Oxford, I found him changing the furniture in his rooms when the drab sameness of existence became too much to bear. Several decades later, when Bidhan Chandra Roy joined hands with Atulya Ghosh to ban the Communist Party in undivided Bengal after dubbing them black-marketeers, Nikhil changed the furniture in our underground hide-outs, leaving us (including himself, of course) shivering in the cold for several days!

Two: (and this is even more relevant today) Nikhil’s unforgettable sense of humour which almost never left him in the most ominous contexts. When it did, he laughed his way out of the lapse, neither denying the lapse nor making excuses. I do like to think these two qualities of his matter more than anything else than can be remembered about this altogether remarkable man.

November 13, 2000

Arun Bose
- 14C, Boloram Ghose Street
- Kolkata – 700004

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